For two weeks from the first of September we're going to be doing training for Undokai （運動会）, or Sports Day. We started training actually from the 5th, because we had tests to cover on the 1st and 4th. Japanese schools are mainly organized in three semesters, called gakki（学期）. So 1st semester is ichigaki, and second semester is nigaki, and third is sangakki. Well during second semester students have undokai.
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week it rained all day long so the training and preparation for undokai was held in the （体育館） taiikukan, or the gymnasium, and in the （武道場）budoujou, the room for Japanese traditional martial arts. Boys trained in the budoujou and girls were in the taiikukan.
Boys are training for a pyramid building and gymnastics routine while the girls are rehearsing a choreographed dance. Of the two, the boys definitely have it worse off. They have to jump, flip, balance, and all kinds of other students. It's definitely more dangerous. And the grand finale ends up with three huge pyramids stacked with about 30 students each. The boys' activites are called マスゲーム, (mass games) and are modeled after the North Korean events to symbolize group dynamics rather than individual thinking:
Mass games or mass gymnastics are a form of gymnastics in which large numbers of performers take part in a highly regimented performance that emphasizes group dynamics rather than individual prowess. Because of the vast scale of the performance, with often tens of thousands of performers, mass games are performed in stadiums, often accompanied by a background of card-turners occupying the seats on the opposite side from the viewers. Mass games are typically used to emphasize themes of political propaganda. They developed alongside 19th century nationalist movements, particularly the Czech Sokol movement, as they embodied youth, strength, militarism, and unity.On Friday, Sept. 8th we did marching drills for about 2 hours out on the （運動場）undoujou, or sports ground. Ours is made of sand like the image above. Students and teachers went outside and practiced repeatedly how to stand up in unison, how to march in step, how to yell when the whistle blows, and so on. Every step of the process was rehearsed over and over and over. It got to be a little too much. I, not knowing that we were going to the ground forgot to bring a hat, so I went out and got a bad sunburn. Though I did bring my sunglasses, so now I look like a red raccoon kind of like the guy in the picture below:
I should have some images from the undokai soon. It should prove to be a rather comical and fun experience.